FaceTime now has a legitimate competitor, as Apple’s video calling feature now faces the wrath of Skype, which has officially released the video calling feature to its iOS client. Admittedly, a CES intro was generally expected, but the Skype outage last week might have prompted an early release to get some positive PR.
Unlike FaceTime, the video calling feature works over 3G, as well as wi-fi. The data use on 3G has been measured, however, and it’s 3.4MB per minute. If you aren’t grandfathered into an unlimited data plan with AT&T, you’d better keep an eye on your usage if you use 3G for calling.
In terms of compatibility, the new app (App Store link) is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPod touch 4th generation with i0S 4.0 or above (naturally, iPhone 3GS users don’t have a front-facing camera, but they can still use the rear-facing one). Video calls can be received on the iPod touch 3rd generation and iPad.
Additionally, calls can be made between iOS devices and desktop clients, including Skype for Windows 4.2 and above, Skype for Mac 2.8 and above, Skype for Linux and the ASUS videophone. A reminder, based on last week’s Skype outage: update your Windows client if you are on 126.96.36.199.
Although 3G calling is possible, we’d recommend that 3G to 3G video calling only be done as a last resort. Performance, as you might expect, is far from optimal.
Skype’s app is free in the App Store. No word yet on Android updates or other platforms, but those announcements might be saved for CES.